Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Modern Yoga Lineage~ about contemporary schools of Yoga + their roots
Sri Krishnamacharya~ Father of modern Yoga:
"Krishnamacharya is known today in the world of yoga, because he was the teacher of B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and TKV Desikachar, three of the great teachers of contemporary yoga. As such he has been called by some the father of modern yoga. Shri Krishnamacharya’s lineage can be traced to the Yogi Nathamuni, a ninth century South Indian saint who was renowned for his great works in Sanskrit and Yoga – the Nyayatattva and Yoga Rahasya.
Krishnamacharya was born on November 18, 1888, at Muchukundapuram in the Chitradurga district in the State of Karnataka. His parents, Shri Tirumalai Srinivasa Tatacharya and Smt. Ranganayakamma were of distinguished ancestry and lived their lives according to the shastras. Krishnamacharya was the eldest of three brothers and three sisters.
Krishnamacharya had his initial education under his father who taught him the Vedas, yoga sutras of Patanjali and the other religious texts in the traditional gurukula (pupil in the house of the guru) manner. The seeds of yoga were also sown in young Krishnamacharya by his father. He would be woken at two in the morning and made to chant the Vedas and perform asanas. His father who was his first guru planted the seeds of knowledge in him, encouraged and guided him in his quest for learning. He lost this precious guidance at the age of ten when his father died.
At the age of 16, the entire family then moved to Mysore to join his great grandfather who was the head of the Parakala Math. It is here that he studied Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar), Vedanta and Tarka (logic) under the religious Guru to the Maharaja of Mysore. His thirst for knowledge increased and at the age of 16 he took the examination in Purva Mimamsa and the different shastras at the Maharaja Sanskrit College in Mysore. In his early adult life he studied with the pundits in Benares (Varanasi), and further studies on the Vedanta and advance Sanskrit grammar in Mysore before returning to Benares.
Once while he was practising asanas as taught by his father in Banaras, a saint saw him and advised him to study yoga under Shri Jha who had the title of Yogacharya. Yogacharya Jha advised Krishnamacharya that if he was seriously interested in Yoga, then he must travel beyond Nepal to Tibet, where Rama Mohana Brahmachari lived. He also recommended a book called Yoga Kurunta in the Gurkha language, which gave practical information on Yoga and health. this knowledge secured Krishnamacharya the permission he needed to leave the country when he was unable to improve the health of the Indian viceroy who was ill with diabetes. The viceroy was so pleased, that he made the necessary arrangements, provided clothing and even sent to aides with him.
After a long trek across the Himalayas, Krishnamacharya reached the sacred lake Mansarovar near Mount Kailash. There he searched for Rama Mohana Brahmachari and on finding him Krishnamacharya prostrated and requested him to accept him as his disciple. Krishnamacharya became a part of Rama Mohana Brahmachari’s family and lived there for seven and a half years. For the first three years he memorised the entire texts including the Yoga Kurunta. The following three years he practiced yogabhyasa (Study of Yoga)and the next one and a half years he studied sikshana (teaching) and chikitsa krama (yoga therapy). His Guru then asked him to return to society, lead a married life and spread the message of yoga.
After these 7 years of study, he came back to South India and studied Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. His fame as a great scholar led to an invitation from the Mahraja of Mysore Krishnamacharya accepted the offer and lived the remainder of his life devoted to the spread and teaching of yoga. In accordance with his Guru’s wishes that he should live a life of a householder – he married Namagiriammal in 1925.
After Indian independence and the close of the Maharaja’s yogashala, Krishnamacharya and his family left Mysore for Madras. as he aged Krishnamacharya’s teaching style changed. Iyengar said of him "in the early days, he was like a militant. He was a fierce, strong, demanding individual. Pattabhi Jois echoes this saying "if you came one minute early or one minute late you would not be allowed into class. He demanded total discipline and was very tough." His son Desikachar, who did not begin yoga studies with his father until Krishnamacharya was 70 says " Later on, he changed and began to teach people differently. He began to cater to the needs of the individual, rather than to teach everyone the same way. His teaching methodology also involved, which meant that he reduced and adapted it to the needs of individuals, to their culture and mentality. It was not standardization of their "everyone has to do this asana" variety. Although many considered him a Yoga Master he continued to call himself a student because he felt that he was always “studying, exploring and experimenting” with the practice.
T. Krishnamacharya died in 1989, just after his 100th birthday. His work lives on through his son T.K.V. Desikachar who lived and studied with his father for 3 decades. Sri Desikachar still lives in the family home in Chennai and is semi-retired so that he can spend his days translating the library of work that T. Krishnamacharya left for future generations of yogis. So Krishnamacharya will be providing us with yoga teachings for many years to come. He lives on through these teachings and the family that is carefully disseminating them to the world.
T. Krishnamacharya’s work was revolutionary in his time because he believed that yoga was universal to all people, irrespective of age, gender, culture, faith, abilities and interests. He is one of the few masters of m modern times who understood the whole gamut of yoga’s tools and their potentials for health and healing. For him yoga was not merely a form of physical exercise, but one that helped us in our journey towards our authentic selfs."
Modern Teachers + Schools Descending from this Lineage...
Sri Krishnamacharya taught B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and TKV Desikachar.
Iyengar Yoga- a modern school that is known for using lots of modifications and props to create a very safe, effective and therapeutic Yoga practice.
TKV Desikachar has taught many teachers to work one-on-one with a thoroughly customized Yoga program for each student, taking after his father's later teachings.
K. Pathabi Jois, founder of modern Ashtanga Yoga, has taken after Sri Krishnamacharya in that he has taught many of the most notable teachers of the "second generation" of modern Yoga...
"Jois was born on July 26, 1915, (Guru Pūrṇimā, full moon day) in the village of Kowshika, near Hassan, Karnataka, South India.
Jois's father was an astrologer, priest, and landholder. From the age of 5 he was instructed in Sanskrit and rituals by his father, as were all Brahmin boys. No one else in his family had learned yoga or even professed interest in it.
In 1927, at the age of 12, Jois attended a lecture and demonstration at the Jubilee Hall in Hassan by T. Krishnamacharya and became his student the very next day. For two years Jois remained in Kowshika and practiced with Krishnamacharya every day. Jois never told his family he was practicing yoga. He would rise early, go to practice, and then go to school.
In 1930, Jois ran away from home to Mysore to study Sanskrit, with 2 rupees. Around the same time Krishnamacharya departed Hassan to teach elsewhere. Two years later, Jois was reunited with Krishnamacharya, who had also made his way to Mysore. During this time, the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, had become seriously ill and it is said that Krishnamacharya had healed him, through yoga, where others had failed. The Maharaja became Krisnamacharya's patron and established a Yoga shala for him on the palace grounds. Jois often accompanied Krishnamacharya in demonstrations. Krishnamacharya remained in Mysore with Jois until 1941, when he left for Madras after the death of the Maharaja.
Jois remained in Mysore and married a young woman named Savitramma (but who came to be known as Amma), on the full moon of June 1937 when Jois was 21 years old. In 1948 they, with the help of Jois' students, purchased a home in the section of town called Lakshmipuram, where they lived with their children Saraswathi, Mañju and Ramesh.
He held a teaching position in yoga at the Sanskrit College of Maharaja from 1937 to 1973, becoming vidwan (professor) in 1956, as well as being Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Government College of Indian Medicine from 1976 to 1978. He taught there until 1973, when he left to devote himself fully to teach yoga at his yoga shala. He had studied texts such as the Patañjali Yoga Darśana, Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, Yoga Yajñavalkya and the Upaniṣads, and in 1948, he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at their new home in Lakshmipuram.
In 1964, a Belgian named André Van Lysebeth (1919–2004) spent two months with Jois learning the primary and intermediate asanas of the Ashtanga Yoga system. Not long afterwards, van Lysebeth wrote a book called J'apprends le Yoga (1967, English title: Yoga Self-Taught) which mentioned Jois and included his address. This marked the beginning of westerners coming to Mysore to study yoga. His students included Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow. All his students, including the celebrities and his grandson, received the same training.
His first trip to the West was in 1974 to South America, to deliver a speech in Sanskrit at an international yoga conference. In 1975 he stayed for four months in Encinitas, California, marking the beginning of Ashtanga yoga in the US. He would return to the US several times over the next 20 years, to teach yoga at Encinitas and elsewhere.
He wrote his only book, Yoga Mālā, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999. A film was made about him by Robert Wilkins.
Jois continued to teach at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, now located in the neighbourhood of Gokulam, with his only daughter Saraswathi Rangaswamy (b. 1941) and his grandson Sharath (b. 1971), until May 18, 2009 when he died aged 93 of natural causes."
Ashtanga Students (they have also studied other schools as well) that became influential teachers included
Shiva Rea (Prana Flow) (http://shivarea.com/),
David Life (Jivamukti Yoga) (http://www.eomega.org/omega/faculty/viewProfile/c8b4a27230c94f2bca1d21d825c3a55f/),
John Friend (Anusara Yoga) and others.
Other Influential schools of modern Yoga include:
Anusara Yoga: http://www.anusara.com/ Started by John Friend.
Kundalini Yoga: http://www.3ho.org/ Founded by Yogi Bhajan
Bikram Yoga: http://bikramyoga.com/ Begun by Bikram Chodhury
Integral Yoga: http://www.yogaville.org/ Founded by Swami satchidananda
SivanandaYoga Vedanta: http://www.sivananda.org/ Founded by Swami Sivananda (Swami satchidananda's guru)